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Defending Our Oceans, Protecting the Whales: Greenpeace launches most ambitious ship expedition ever undertaken


18 November 2005, Cape Town, South Africa — We are facing a growing wave of ocean extinction; our seas have reached a tipping point, with scores of species, fish, birds and mammals edging toward extinction (1). In response, Greenpeace is launching its most ambitious ship expedition ever to defend our oceans and to call for a vast network of marine reserves that are needed to protect and restore the health of the planets oceans (2)
The expedition will begin this weekend when two Greenpeace ships, the MY Esperanza and the MY Arctic Sunrise, leave Cape Town to oppose continued whaling in the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary.

Flying in the face of international protest and repeated calls from the International Whaling Commission (IWC) to stop the annual hunt, this year the Fisheries Agency of Japan (FAJ) intends to more than double its catch of minke whales to 935. Adding insult to injury this year 10 fin whales will also be caught in the harpooner’s sights. Next year 40 more fin whales will be added along with 50 humpback whales. Both are recognised as endangered species.

“Even though the ban on commercial whaling has been agreed, the international community has failed to stop the hunt. Starting with the easiest whales to catch, vast whaling fleets have pushed one species after another to the brink of extinction. Greenpeace is heading once more to the Sanctuary to defend the whales and call for an immediate end to the hunt” said Shane Rattenbury, head of Greenpeace’s Oceans Campaign. “The persecution of the great whales is a tragic echo of what is happening throughout our oceans,” Rattenbury added.

Every second breath we take comes from the oceans - they give the planet half of its oxygen. In return we suffocate them with pollution, warm them with climate change and empty them of fish. Countless factory ships scour and devour all life in their path with destructive techniques like bottom trawling. It is time to face facts, time to begin defending our oceans. “Only through establishing and enforcing a vast network of marine reserves can we reverse the decline and guarantee our children’s right to inherit healthy seas,” added Rattenbury.

After returning from the Southern Ocean the Esperanza will continue on its 14 month expedition across four of the five oceans, to highlight their wonders and the threats they face, all the while mapping and demonstrating the need for a global network of marine reserves (4).

To help in the campaign Greenpeace is planning to gather a million “Ocean Defenders” through the course of the expedition - supporters who will join the call for action.

The Esperanza, the newest of the Greenpeace ships, has been fitted with new hi-tech equipment for the voyage, including 24/7 internet that will enable the ship to interact with supporters, below the water line cameras, a Remote Operating Vehicle camera and web cams. The crew will be blogging, podcasting and vlogging (video blogging) from the ship and producing programmes for the newly created web-based Greenpeace TV.
Notes to Editor

(1) Pew Institute for Ocean Science

(2) Greenpeace is calling for 40% of the world’s oceans to be designated as marine reserves. A global network of marine reserves would cost $12 billion dollars a year - the same as is spent annually on perfume in the US and Europe.

(3) A loophole in the 1986 international moratorium on commercial whaling governed by the International Whaling Commission (IWC) allows “scientific” whaling. The IWC established the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary in 1994.

For more information, images and videos about the Defending Our Oceans campaign and Southern Ocean Whaling go to:
Further contact information for reporters to get video, photos or report details

Video: Maarten Van Rouveroy, in Amsterdam: + 31 653 504 721 Photo: John Novis, in Amsterdam: + 31 653 819 121.


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